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Altruism?
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Ketty
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:22 pm    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
Ketty wrote:
I can only speak as a woman from my own experience and I'm sure many women who are mothers can say that 'pure' altruism exists.  I also know from self-sacrificing things done for me, that it exists.

Neuroscience would disagree with you there, and frankly, with all due respect, between you and neuroscience, my money's on neuroscience


Knowing you as I do, I'm pretty certain that at some point in your life you've acted altruistically.  So yahboosucks to neuroscience when it comes to some acts of altruism.  
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cyberman wrote:
Sorry, how does neuroscience show that the self-sacrificing things done for Ketty were not altruistic?


I was thinking along the lines of the already significant and always growing body of evidence that what we think of as freely-made, conscious decisions are in fact nothing of the kind - the latest research I've read about (I've got some links somewhere, if anybody's that interested) is telling us that we're already acting unconsciously significantly ahead (relatively speaking - we're talking in terms of milliseconds here) of our conscious mind.

The implication for both free will (a concept which is looking ever more shaky) and altruism is that we act automatically out of pre-programmed, unconscious motives and that the conscious mind, the bit which we think of as being aware of the capacity to make free choices, is constantly playing catch-up: the conclusion being that although we may well sincerely believe that we're acting consciously and deliberately and can make genuinely altruistic choices, we're almost certainly grievously mistaken. There's a permanent lag between what we "decide" to do and our being consciously aware of that "decision" (which isn't) - a lag so small that only modern scientific technology can record it, but a lag nonetheless.
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Last edited by Shaker on Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:38 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Shaker
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ketty wrote:
Knowing you as I do, I'm pretty certain that at some point in your life you've acted altruistically.

I've acted in a way which may look and even subjectively feel like pure altruism, no question of it; but that doesn't mean to say that it actually is so, and the evidence coming out of neuroscientific research these days makes it look like a diminishing and dwindling prospect.

I don't have any prior ideological committment to pure altruism, though: it's not something that I have to defend at all costs.
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Leonard James
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
Sorry, how does neuroscience show that the self-sacrificing things done for Ketty were not altruistic?


I was thinking along the lines of the already significant and always growing body of evidence that what we think of as freely-made, conscious decisions are in fact nothing of the kind - the latest research I've read about (I've got some links somewhere, if anybody's that interested) is telling us that we're already acting unconsciously significantly ahead (relatively speaking - we're talking in terms of milliseconds here) of our conscious mind.

The implication for both free will (a concept which is looking ever more shaky) and altruism is that we act automatically out of pre-programmed, unconscious motives and that the conscious mind, the bit which we think of as being aware of the capacity to make free choices, is constantly playing catch-up: the conclusion being that although we may well sincerely believe that we're acting consciously and deliberately and can make genuinely altruistic choices, we're almost certainly grievously mistaken. There's a permanent lag between what we "decide" to do and our being consciously aware of that "decision" (which isn't) - a lag so small that only modern scientific technology can record it, but a lag nonetheless.


But how do you know that the subconscious mind that arrives at a decision first hasn't itself utilised an ability to choose similar to that of the conscious mind?
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JMC
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you can still "own" your unconscious decisions - in "Christian anthropology" the difference between conscious and unconscious decisions would be the difference between acting at the direction of the mind compared to from the heart.

But the reason I say unconscious decisions can be owned is because our unconscious behaviour is primarily a product of our life experiences and upbringing, which we do have a choice in. If we live our lives in a certain way (and religion is certainly a way of life), then our unconscious acts will be born from that. And, as I said, if an act of altruism is done unconsciously, then it can be selfless because you are literally not thinking about yourself - you're not consciously thinking at all!
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Leonard James
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JMC wrote:
And, as I said, if an act of altruism is done unconsciously, then it can be selfless because you are literally not thinking about yourself - you're not consciously thinking at all!


But you still don't know how the "subconscious" thinking arrived at its decision. It could well have used "subconscious" choice in doing so, after weighing up the evidence.
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JMC
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leonard James wrote:
JMC wrote:
And, as I said, if an act of altruism is done unconsciously, then it can be selfless because you are literally not thinking about yourself - you're not consciously thinking at all!


But you still don't know how the "subconscious" thinking arrived at its decision. It could well have used "subconscious" choice in doing so, after weighing up the evidence.


If we are saying selflessness means giving no thought to oneself, then we can only realistically deal with conscious thought.
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Leonard James
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JMC wrote:
Leonard James wrote:
JMC wrote:
And, as I said, if an act of altruism is done unconsciously, then it can be selfless because you are literally not thinking about yourself - you're not consciously thinking at all!


But you still don't know how the "subconscious" thinking arrived at its decision. It could well have used "subconscious" choice in doing so, after weighing up the evidence.


If we are saying selflessness means giving no thought to oneself, then we can only realistically deal with conscious thought.


I really can't see how you can discount that our subconscious mind might do the same thing.
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JMC
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leonard James wrote:
JMC wrote:
Leonard James wrote:
JMC wrote:
And, as I said, if an act of altruism is done unconsciously, then it can be selfless because you are literally not thinking about yourself - you're not consciously thinking at all!


But you still don't know how the "subconscious" thinking arrived at its decision. It could well have used "subconscious" choice in doing so, after weighing up the evidence.


If we are saying selflessness means giving no thought to oneself, then we can only realistically deal with conscious thought.


I really can't see how you can discount that our subconscious mind might do the same thing.


But we can't deal with it, because it is subconscious. It's just up to speculation. However we can know that when we act subconsciously we are not consciously thinking of ourselves, and so we can say as close to certainty as possible that selfless acts are possible.

That is not to say that the subconscious acts only selflessly -- we may, and do, act selfishly without thinking, but that is why I say our subconscious "from the heart" actions are a reflection on how life and our choices have shaped our instincts.
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Leonard James
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JMC wrote:


But we can't deal with it, because it is subconscious. It's just up to speculation. However we can know that when we act subconsciously we are not consciously thinking of ourselves, and so we can say as close to certainty as possible that selfless acts are possible.

That is not to say that the subconscious acts only selflessly -- we may, and do, act selfishly without thinking, but that is why I say our subconscious "from the heart" actions are a reflection on how life and our choices have shaped our instincts.


I repeat, we have no knowledge of how the subconscious mind works, so it is perfectly possible that it arrives at its decisions in the same way as our conscious mind.

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